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FAQs on Catnip

January 15, 2018
Catnip—it’s our feline friends’ favorite pleasure, but how much do you really know about it? Have you ever tried using it on your cat? To learn more about this fascinating plant, read on as your Pickerington, OH veterinarian answers some frequently asked questions.

What is Catnip, Anyway?

Catnip is a type of herb; it’s actually a member of the same “plant family” as mint. Originally from Europe, it has since spread all over the world and can be found in many climates, including throughout most of North America. The wild catnip plant is a leafy green, and it has white flowers with characteristic purple spots. In a pet store, you’ll find a dried and processed catnip. It can come in a raw flake form, which looks almost like oregano or dried basil, or it can be included in toys, sprays, and a multitude of other products.

Why Does Catnip Affect Cats?

The oils of the catnip plant contain a chemical, nepetalactone, which causes a reaction in your cat’s brain. This is the source of the physical reaction that you see. Many experts liken catnip to an aphrodisiac—it’s possible that catnip elicits a kind of sexual response in your cat’s brain!

How Do Cats React?

Different cats react to catnip in different ways. Some might run around in an excited manner, darting this way and that until wearing themselves out. Others might roll on their backs or rub their faces in the area where catnip was sprinkled. Cats have even been known simply to stretch out on their bellies or backs in a euphoric state! It all depends on your cat.

Is There Any Risk?

There is no risk associated with giving catnip to your cat; it’s perfectly harmless! The effects that your cat feels won’t harm them in any way. In addition, the effects of catnip don’t last long, as the oils wear off in a very short amount of time. In most cases, cats stop responding to catnip after a few minutes.

Why Isn’t My Cat Responding to Catnip?

Have you tried out catnip on your feline friend, but with no results? Don’t fear—if your cat doesn’t seem to respond to catnip, there’s nothing wrong with them! Cats require a particular gene to feel catnip’s effects; if they haven’t inherited it, catnip won’t do much of anything! For more information, call your Pickerington, OH animal hospital.
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